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A Rallying Cry

Elizabeth Murch Livingston ’41 prefers to cheer others on away from the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean she’s a spectator.

At 97, she actively advocates for issues near to her heart—and encourages classmates to do the same.

“We were fortunate to have been given the tools at Swarthmore to be effective in fighting for the causes we hold most dear,” 1941’s longtime secretary writes in this issue’s Class Notes.

For Livingston, that’s included marching with her Piper Shores retirement community in Maine’s annual Pride Portland parade—roars of applause greet the group each year as they cover the mile-and-a-half course. For others, she says, it may mean writing letters or making calls on behalf of their own pet interests.

“Libby” to her Swarthmore friends but “Betty” to nearly everyone else—she adopted a new moniker as a student at the College to avoid confusion among a bevy of Bettys—Livingston became passionate about volunteering while raising her five children. Eager to do more, she pursued a master of social work and established a career helping families and immigrant communities.

Education and Swarthmorean values were instrumental in Livingston’s upbringing: Her parents, the late Edwin and Elinor Murch, graduated from the College (Classes of 1914 and 1915, respectively), as did several aunts, uncles, and cousins. The family tradition continued with her Quaker matchbox marriage to the late Bill Livingston ’39 and the attendance by two of their own children, William Livingston ’67 and Martha Livingston Bruce ’74.

“The most important thing about my being at Swarthmore was meeting my husband—and after that, field hockey,” she laughs.

All jokes aside, Livingston’s great takeaway from nearly a century of service? To always be a rallying cry, since every voice matters.

“We have to support those who are involved in issues we find important,” she says. “And why not? Each little thing helps.”